Lighting techniques essential in filmmaking

Lighting techniques set the scene of a film. Cinematic lighting creates depth, drama and atmosphere, direct the audience's eye to a specific element, such as an actor or prop, and even reflect the emotions and nature of a character.

Techniques in cinematic lighting include diffusing and bouncing light and adjusting colour temperatures to create a specific atmosphere that can enhance visual storytelling.

19 STASHED

3 LIKES

Cinematography: Understanding Lighting in Film

thefilmpost.medium.com

Three-point lighting is most commonly used
  • The key light is the strongest and brightest light source. Therefore, it makes the strongest shadows.
  • Fill light _"fills in" the shadows cast by the key light and _softens the lighting on the subject and environment. It is placed near the camera and around 120° from the key light.
  • Backlight is used to separate the subject from the background. It is placed behind the subject and around 120° from the fill light.

16 STASHED

1 LIKE

Hard or harsh lighting

Hard or harsh lighting uses smaller light sources to cast large, crisp shadows on the subject while increasing the contrast. The effect is a dramatic, suspenseful atmosphere that evokes a sense of fear or wickedness.

Common sources of lightning:

  • Low-key lighting comes from one source to create strong shadows and contrast.
  • Kicker light with soft fill. A backlight shines on the side of the subject's face and creates a rim light effect. The soft fill light mildly illuminates the face.

15 STASHED

1 LIKE

Soft or diffused lighting

Soft lighting is created by using larger light sources further from the subject and in a scene with many fill lights. The lights illuminate the whole frame instead of just a single subject. The effect is a dreamy, romantic or fantastical atmosphere that portrays hope and peace.

  • High-key light. Fill light and backlighting brighten up the entire frame. It has a neutral effect. Extreme high-key lighting creates a peaceful atmosphere.
  • Diffused overhead lighting is suitable for close-up shots.

15 STASHED

1 LIKE

Other lighting techniques
  • Side lighting. It illuminates the contours of the face and increases contrast for a dramatic effect.
  • Bounce lighting. A reflector is used to bounce a strong light towards the subject. It spreads and softens the light.
  • Motivated lighting. Studio lights, lanterns or other artificial lights resemble a natural light source, such as the sun.
  • Practical set lighting. It uses existing light sources to light the scene, such as lamps or studio lights.
  • Natural film lighting, also known as ambient lighting, uses the light already available.

16 STASHED

1 LIKE

Colour
  • Warm lighting creates red, yellow or orange tones. It evokes a sense of comfort, warmth, happiness and is often used in romance or teen dramas.
  • Cool lighting creates blue, green or grey tones. It projects a feeling of loneliness or coldness.
  • White lighting has no coloured tones. The effect is mainly neutral, but excessive use of white light can feel overwhelming.
  • Coloured lighting is tinted with different colours and can be used to set different moods. For example, red reflects romance or danger.

15 STASHED

1 LIKE

Lighting for characters

Lighting can help to reveal a personality or emotions.

  • Under lighting. The light shines from under the character's face and creates a creepy effect.
  • Backlighting. The light source is behind the subject and creates a halo effect around the subjects head, making them looking angelic.
  • Kicker. Backlighting on the subject's temple highlights a chiselled cheekbone.
  • Eye light. The light source is put on the camera and illuminates the front of the face. It creates an intriguing sparkle.

16 STASHED

1 LIKE

Deepstash helps you become inspired, wiser and productive, through bite-sized ideas from the best articles, books and videos out there.

GET THE APP: